Lockdown and Out
Updated: Aug 5
Before I even get into this properly, let me just say, lockdown has definitely won. Before the world decided to implode and we were able to lead our lives as normally as possible, I would have maybe one panic attack every three months as an average. This is no longer the case and I am rocking a consistent anxiety percentage of 75 at all times, with a panic attack mic drop about once a week. I am exhausted. Here’s the chronological order of what happened and how lockdown has kicked my ass.
From about mid- March I was working from home and not disliking it. Shops and pubs were still open and although awareness was raised life was still good. A short time later, we entered phase two, no longer being able to see other human beings and lockdown was on. Life started to get a bit scary and I was on full alert at all times, but luckily, I still had work and routine to keep me going. Not being able to see friends and go out as usual was horrible and I started to struggle as my dog wasn’t with me and I missed him so much. Being able to have a glass of wine and vent at the end of the week was my release and having that taken away from me allowed a lot of my emotions to bubble up too, but again, at least between 8am – 5pm I didn’t have to think about it. Then it came for me. FURLOUGH.
Now, don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful for the entire furlough scheme, and the fact I got to keep my job. It’s amazing and I am forever going to thank the government for it. That said, I was not working for the first time in 10 years, I no longer had a job to go to or anything to do. Routine was completely gone. Boredom quickly ensued and I realised I have no hobbies that don’t include being out of the house or with other people. It was just me and my mind, and that is NEVER a good thing. The first few days were OK, I slept a ton, ate ice cream and watched Disney. Then my sleeping pattern went awry, and the anxiety crept in. First of all it was the guilt of not doing anything productive when everyone, everywhere seemed to be keeping themselves busy and doing DIY. Then it was my random body aches and pains as I was no longer moving as much, which of course I imagined to be much worse, but the real clincher was what my anxiety was planning for me. The knockout punch if you will. Jaw Clenching.
Years ago I used to clench my jaw in my sleep and grind my teeth. No big deal, got myself a mouth guard and sooner or later it stopped and I got rid of said mouth guard. My jaw however has always clicked for as far as I can remember. Turns out it isn’t meant to… who knew?! Anyway, as my stress levels slowly increased during lockdown, as did my jaw clenching and sooner or later… a TMJ disorder arose. Jaw pain started, then my ears started feeling full and in pain, and the headaches would NOT go away. Of course I then associated my headaches with an obvious brain tumour and googled the hell out of my symptoms which included but were not limited to;
· Pain when moving my eyes
· Headaches that felt like a hammer was going into my skull
· Pin prick sensations all over my head and face
· Incredibly sore temples
· Tooth ache
· Pain in my neck
· Clusters of heat and pain on my face
· Temples and Sinuses throbbing
· Jaw aches
· The inability to focus on anything
Collectively I thought I was definitely now running on borrowed time which then increased the amount that I clench my teeth and the circle of anxiety was complete. When I say thought, I mean still think as the circle is alas not yet broken and every day is still a struggle. The dentist and doctors are not yet open and I can’t get a proper diagnosis. I can’t get an actual mouth guard due to aforementioned reason. My mind is tricking my body into thinking it’s completely breaking down and I’m totally falling for it. This was a blinding move by the gods of anxiety… impressive even.
Matters then escalated, as if dealing with this crushing blow on a day to day basis wasn’t hard enough, I received a phone call…. It was work. I was due back. My immediate reaction was one of bliss and joy as I was over the moon to get a routine back into my life. What I had not considered was that the routine would not be the same, nor would work as I would be dealing with this jaw pain day to day. Funnily enough, it was far from easy and I then became more mentally drained. It’s a week in to going back to work, and it’s been one of the hardest so far. Work was never stress free and that has added onto the turmoil of lockdown anxiety. The fear that life will never be the same consistently playing on my mind. There is no denying that I am genuinely scared, lost and struggling hugely, but thankfully I have wonderful friends and a boyfriend who are very helpful and supportive and hopefully it’ll all be over soon.
So yes, lockdown won. It beat me. But I’m a vengeful bitch so I’ll get my own back. Patience is key and I know that. In the meantime it’s OK to be scared and worried. Concerned things won’t get back to normal. But chances are they will… lots of meditation, massages and horse feeding should hopefully do the trick but if not we’ll try other things until something eventually works. I mean, it fucking has to! It’s getting in the way of my nap times and no one likes it when I’m cranky!